“Why Does Masculinity Have To Have Anything To Do With Heroic Behavior?”

Courtesy of Instapundit, comes this article from Jessica Wakeman at The Frisky about heroism and the Batman shootings in Aurora. Before you read, I must warn you; The feminism is strong with this one.

In the days, weeks and months following a national tragedy, myths settle into our national consciousness. Myths are not falsehoods, per se. Rather, myths are the stories that we repeat to explain a complex and unnerving topic and make sense of the confusion – to label something “good” and “evil,” to finger the “bad guy” and the “hero.” A story coming out of the Aurora, Colorado, shooting – which I have heard again and again these past few days – is of the three boyfriends who saved the lives of their girlfriends by throwing themselves in the line of fire during the “Dark Knight Rises” shooting.

…I can respect and be touched by these men’s sacrifices. But I’m also wary of some byproducts of the heroism myth, the idea that a few good men will have courage under fire and put “women and children first.” The Post crowed over these men’s “old-fashioned chivalry,” which are funny words to use, when you get right down to it. Why does masculinity have to have anything to do with heroic behavior? Their sacrifice was noble, sure. But in every telling of the “boyfriends risked their lives” story – and every boyfriend who then tells his girlfriend, “Sweetie, I would have done the same for you!” – there’s an implication that heroism is a gendered concept.

Heroism has never had a gender: just tell that to Harriet Tubman, Clara Barton, or any of the female soldiers who risk their lives daily in our military.

….I’ve been thinking a lot in recent days, too, about Jamie Rohrs, who left his child and girlfriend behind in the theater, got into his car, and drove away. He’s been getting a lot of flack for not behaving in the most noble of ways. Who knows how any of us would have reacted in that scenario? I would like to think that I would not have behaved as he did. And yet I feel bad for him too – he did, in my opinion, the wrong thing by leaving his loved ones behind in the theater and driving off. But there shouldn’t have to be this added burden of scorn on him because he acted “like a pussy,” as I’ve heard him called. He’s a human. He freaked out. That’s real life – not the perpetuation of a myth.

Matt McQuinn, Jonathan Blunk, and Alex Teves may well be true heroes who flung themselves in front of their girlfriends’ to save their lives. That’s beyond noble; it is the greatest sacrifice. But when we congratulate these individuals for their sacrifice, let’s congratulate them for being heroic people – not just heroic men.

Glenn Reynolds had a fantastic response to this.

JESSICA WAKEMAN: “Why does masculinity have to have anything to do with heroic behavior?”

It doesn’t. Er, but where are the girlfriends who threw themselves into the path of bullets to save their boyfriends?

Also, the fact that her best examples of female heroism were “Harriet Tubman, Clara Barton, (and) female soldiers” is telling as well. Harriet Tubman and Clara Barton both did very admirable things, but there were literally millions of men engaged in kill or be killed combat who could be said to be as heroic as either of them. As to female soldiers serving today, again, they deserve credit. But, not as much credit as men who are actually serving in combat.

So, you can say that as a philosophical matter, women are just as heroic as men, but as a practical matter, it’s not even remotely true — and why would it be? Heroism is part of the male ideal and it has deep genetic and cultural roots. That’s what little boys are doing when they play cowboys and Indians, it’s why men love watching action movies and mixed martial arts, when they’re not playing violent video games.

You can’t expect women to be as heroic as men, unless they’re defending their children, because it’s not part of their mental image the same way it is for men. In fact, in many ways, it’s actually discouraged. For example, imagine what the reaction would have been if a girlfriend deliberately took a bullet for her boyfriend in that theater. Certainly, he would have appreciated it, but he also probably would have felt shamed and emasculated that his girlfriend had been the courageous one. Incidentally, that would have been exactly the way he should feel in that situation because his girlfriend would have usurped his role as a man.

Feminists can keep pushing the fiction that men and women are essentially identical (except when women are better) as long as they like, but it’s never going to be true.

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